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Pentagon Says Search to Be Wide For Sexual Misconduct Evidence

By Bradley Graham
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON

The Pentagon's top military officer said Monday the Army is casting a wide net to determine how serious a sexual misconduct problem it has in the wake of allegations of abusive behavior by supervisors at a major training facility in Maryland.

"We certainly have to assume that it could be happening somewhere else," Gen. John Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on CBS's "This Morning." "And that's why the Army is casting its net very wide all across the Army, and certainly all training centers, to get to the bottom of this."

"But right now I don't think we have yet all the evidence, or it's very difficult to determine just how big that problem really is," the general said.

In appearances on several television shows Monday marking Veteran's Day, Shalikashvili echoed the outrage and commitment to seeing justice done that have been expressed by other senior defense officials since charges of rape and other sexual crimes were announced last week against trainers at the Aberdeen Proving Ground's Ordnance Center.

The investigation has resulted in charges against a company commander and two drill sergeants, administrative action against two other sergeants and suspension of an additional 15 military supervisors at the center, which teaches maintenance skills to recruits fresh out of basic training.

"My sense is also that we don't know yet the extent of this tragic occurrence there," Shalikashvili said on NBC's "Today." "But we have to, therefore, use all the energy that we have to follow every possible lead. It's, I think, premature to tell you that we understand the total involvement."

On Monday, more than 250 calls streamed into an Army hotline set up to field complaints of sexual misconduct throughout the service, bringing the total since Thursday to nearly 2,000. Officials said 145 complaints received over the past four days have been deemed serious enough by criminal investigators to warrant further inquiry. Of those, 56 were related to Aberdeen; the rest involved other Army facilities.

"The majority of complaints come from training bases," one official said.